VMworld 2014 – Day 1

The day started off in a very different way than all other VMworlds that I’ve attended. Scott Lowe had organized a very informal Christian meet-up for anyone who wanted to gather and offer up any thoughts on their hearts before hitting the ground running each day. I should pass credit to Dave Hewitt as it was he who had the idea and reached out to Scott since Scott had the influence that Dave did not. Scott shared it with the community and ran with it. And what a gift it was for those of us who came out. On Monday morning, about ten of us showed up and had a very uplifting time getting our head and hearts on straight for the day and lifting up in prayer our families, fellow attendees and victims of the earthquake.

After this, I headed over to the first keynote. Some of the major announcements from the keynote:

My first breakout session of the day was a vSOM Partner session. This was hugely beneficial as it revealed to me tools to help customers find value in vSOM/vCOps. It’s such a great product with its monitoring, smart alerting, predictive analytics and intuitive dashboards, that it’s hard to deny its value when running a trial in one’s environment. However, learning the tools to help with these opportunities and show this to customers is key. I am truly impressed with how much VMware pours into these types of resources to educate their partners. Their Partner Central site is loaded with tools and resources to assist these opportunities and help small partners like ours accelerate our VMware business.

Later on, I attended the Jason Nash/Chris Wahl NSX in the Real World session. Those guys are out of this world. Besides the fact they are among the first two VCDX-NVs, they are amazing talents in the community – very smart, quick-witted and remarkably comfortable with off the cuff banter in front of hundreds of folks. They laid out some real world knowledge on real practical uses of NSX. It was as much entertaining as it was informative.

In between sessions, I stopped by the Community stage in the Hang Space to get a feel for where I would be “performing” the next day. I did manage to catch a couple of the TechTalk sessions – Brian Graf’s and Sean Massey’s sessions – both great CLI sessions. I have much to learn in the ways of scripting and automation so these were incredibly informative. My talk the next day would be about vCO automation, but primarily from the perspective of someone who is just waking up to these solutions and test driving them.

I did spend more time in the Hang Space, trying to grab some valuable downtime to polish up my TechTalk presentation for the next day. I felt the energy in there, but I soon discovered it was fairly distracting for me as I just wanted to either watch a presentation or grab a moment to chat with one of the notable folks walking by. I did manage to steal conversations with some influential guys like Josh Atwell and Hersey Cartwright.

Josh has been quite a character in the community for the past several years. And by quite a character, I mean that in a good way. Let’s face it, he’s a rock star. Everyone knows him – he has connections all over the place, he’s been involved in many of the big community efforts, he’s been published, interviewed, podcasted, spotlighted, referenced, you name it… His name is out there everywhere. And yet, he’s just an all-around normal guy and family man, trying to maintain balance in his life. So when I had the opportunity, I laid out my burning question for him – “How do you do it all?” His response: “B minus”. OK, fair enough – I should’ve expected such a response from him. But, he simply meant he doesn’t do it all very well; he does just enough to get by. In a nutshell he shared with me his adherence to compartmentalization. On certain nights, his family knows he’s doing vBrownBag, other nights he’s doing virtual Design Master. He then makes sure he has specific time set aside for them. He spent quite a while sharing with me his approach and the wisdom behind it. Fantastic conversation. Thanks for the great insight, Josh!

I’ve also followed Hersey’s contributions to the community since he gave a vBrownBag session on VCAP-DCA preparation a couple years ago. I felt I could relate a bit with Hersey’s more low-key approach within the community. That said, he’s hugely involved, very well known, he’s an author as well and is VCDX #128. Watching him move through his VCAPs back in 2012 to VCDX earlier this year has given me real hope that I might actually be able to pull this off myself. He’s really spurred my belief and openness to making the decision to just go for it! And with his book, vSphere Data Center Design Cookbook in hand to help me finish out my VCAP-DCD, his contributions will continue to have a significant impact on my personal success. Thanks, Hersey!

After some meaningful conversations with these guys, I then headed over the vExpert bloggers session. This year the panel consisted of Scott Lowe, Chad Sakac, Duncan Epping and William Lam. As in previous years, it was nothing but amazing insight from these guys. The questions from the audience were mostly technical, but my favorites were the non-tech ones. The one that came up this time was, “With all your dedication and energy you give to the community, what keeps you from getting burnt out?” Sakac’s answer was simply that he drives hard for a while and then has to completely disengage for a few days to recharge and find balance. Duncan talked about the need to have real dates with his wife and put his phone away. Good answers about balance – something we all need in this line of work.

I then grabbed dinner in Chinatown with my old coworkers and then headed back to polish up my TechTalk presentation. I knew the next day would be a huge day for me so I had to be sure to get good sleep and keep good focus.

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